By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Forty years is a long time.
And that’s how long Colfax resident Penny Noer has been coordinating the American Red Cross blood drive in Colfax.
Noer’s last blood drive was August 20 when the American Red Cross held a blood drive at Colfax High School in memory of Dennis Geissler.
Noer began coordinating the Colfax blood drive in 1973.
“I think it’s something very important to give blood. So many people don’t even give it a second thought. They take it for granted when they need blood, it’s going to be there,” she said.
Noer was proud to say that her 24-year-old grandson had given blood at the August 20 blood drive.
“Our children all gave blood as soon as they were old enough,” said Noer, whose husband, Juul, owned and operated Noer’s Drug in Colfax.
For many years, the Colfax blood drive was held in the basement of the Colfax Municipal Building.
“We set a record in that little basement one year,” Noer said, pointing to a plaque that read “The American National Red Cross to the Colfax blood program area: for achieving an all-time record of 139 units of blood in September of 1974.”
“It is harder to get that many units of blood now because there is more paperwork,” Noer noted.
A Red Cross official at the August 20 blood drive said that her goal was to collect 45 units for the day.
“I’ve already got someone to take over. Pam (Arntson) volunteered. This is her first bloodmobile, and I’m just here to get her started. She’s got all the boxes now that I had,” Noer said.
Noer says she does not know everyone who has come to donate blood at Colfax, but she knows many of the donors, and especially those who have been regulars over the years, such as Melvina Solberg Evenson.
Evenson, who is 97, was among those who donated blood on August 20.
“Pam is so capable. I am leaving it in good hands,” Noer said.
“I don’t think I will last 40 years like Penny, but I will do it as long as I can,” Arntson said.
Coordinating the blood drive is one way that Arntson says she can contribute to the community.
“My mom (Phyllis Peterson) knows what’s going on, so she can lead me through it,” Arntson said.
Peterson also is a long-time volunteer with the Colfax blood drive.
“I’m glad to be able to help out … it does so much good for so many people,” Arntson said.
Although the blood drive on August 20 was scheduled until 6 p.m., Red Cross representatives elected to close it down early because of the extreme heat outside.
Temperatures on that day were around 90 degrees with a heat index of about 100 degrees.
Dennis Geissler officially retired as superintendent at the Colfax school district in November of 2009. He served as interim superintendent from December of 2009 until June of 2011, when he took a position as superintendent of the Osseo-Fairchild school district. Geissler died in November of 2012.